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House Republicans, especially the hard-core right wingers who march to a tea party beat, privately express concern over what they see as erratic behavior by House Speaker John Boehner.
Some say the Speaker is wandering on and off topic in meetings, sometimes speaking incoherently and failing to stick to an agreed-upon agenda that hopes to derail immigration reform, Obamacare and other programs from the White House and Democrats.
“He’s off message and wandering all over the place,” complains a staff member of one House Republican.
Some wander if the Speaker, who has an acknowledged fondness for cocktails, is drinking too much and letting it affect his ability to lead the GOP-dominated House.
“His speech is sometimes slurred and he has a problem with focus,” said one House aide.
In an interview on CBS television’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Boehner refused to stake out a leadership position on immigration reform and other issues and said Congress would be better off repealing existing laws rather than enacting new ones.
“He is, of course, talking about any laws based on the agenda of the current President,” notes GOP activist Robin Lewis, who notes the number of House votes that Boehner has held to repeal Obamacare.
The House has voted nearly 40 times to repeal parts or all of the law.
Each vote has failed to pass the Senate and each is seen by some on Capitol Hill as meaningless exercises that waste resources and accomplish nothing.
“You’re going to see a lot more,” Boehner vowed on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “You’re going to see bipartisan votes coming out of the House to derail this thing.”
Hill watchers say Boehner is dreaming.
“Each vote runs into a stone wall in the Senate and only increases public anger,” says health care activist Laura Rushton. “Republicans are going to face a lot of anger from the public during the August recess and much of that anger stems from the gridlock in Washington and the lackluster leadership of the House under John Boehner.”
Republicans talk privately of a need to replace Boehner as Speaker after the mid-term elections in 2014 if the GOP, as expected, maintains control of the House. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, seen by many as a puppet of the extreme right-wing of the party, is angling for the job.